Cheesecake Pudding Pie

Spring has sprung, ladies and gentlemen!!! At least, I hope it has since I have frantically purchased a new pair of rain boots AND a rain coat (from here and here, respectively if you’re at all interested in my shopping problem), so I say bring on those spring showers!!! Also not for nothing, this new rain coat is made from 25 renewed plastic bottles and I feel great about it. ANYWAY, back to food which is the real reason why we’re all here. This weekend I had the pleasure of doing truly nothing- you know when you realize that you have not one single plan for the weekend and suddenly the possibilities are endless? That was me for the first time in WEEKS so I knew I had to make it count. Aside from sleeping until 11 on Saturday, I took a trip to the garden near my house and wandered around the greenhouses with my sister, and then promptly came home to make this pie.

Adapted from this recipe from The New York Times and created by Erin McDowell, it starts off its life as a heavenly cheesecake pudding, which is essentially created like a pastry cream, only with a generous amount of cream cheese for that classic cheesecake tang. And, because I can never let well enough alone, I decided to jump a step further and pour the whole thing into a graham cracker pie crust and voila! A pie is made!! This could also probably be classified as a lazy person’s cheesecake, because it doesn’t require the temperamental baking in a water bath or hours of chilling, and in a pinch, you could even use a store bought pre-made graham cracker pie crust. I myself discovered that Honey Maid makes boxes of already crushed graham cracker crumbs, which is really a genius idea, and I hope whoever thought of it gets a promotion.

I even had some leftover filling which I turned into this baby pudding cup!! (And then promptly devoured)

This recipe could be embellished in all sorts of ways if that was something you wanted to explore, I think next time I may swirl in some raspberry coulis on top because literally why not, you know? For the time being, I topped it with a handful of fresh berries, and I can confirm that the whole pie was gone by the next day. Gone, yes, but certainly not forgotten. Now go forth, and make your cheesecake dreams come true!!

But first, here are 5 things to be happy about today!!
ONE.
Old computer games.
TWO.
Mystery books.
THREE.
“Adopt Don’t Shop”.
FOUR.
Reusable straws.
FIVE.
The tropical gradient of a mango skin.

MAKES: 1 9-inch pie (plus maybe enough filling leftover for one ramekin of pudding!)
PREP TIME: 45 minutes
BAKE TIME: 12 minutes
CHILL TIME: 1½ – 2 hours

PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS

5 Tbsp melted, salted butter
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp sugar

CHEESECAKE PUDDING FILLING

2 1/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Raspberries or other fruit, for decoration

PIE CRUST STEPS

ONE. Preheat  your oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix together all your crust ingredients until everything is incorporated. The crumbs should be packable and hold together if pinched.

TWO. Pour the crumbs into a lightly buttered 9-inch pie plate and gently but evenly pack down along the bottom and sides. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the crumbs are toasty. Set aside to cool.


CHEESECAKE FILLING STEPS

ONE. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, salt, and a ¼ cup of the white sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

TWO. In a heat-safe bowl, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar plus the cornstarch to get rid of any lumps. Add in the egg yolks and mix until everything is combined and the eggs are thick and pale yellow.

THREE. Once the milk has come to a simmer, slowly drizzle about 1/3 of it into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that you don’t scramble the eggs. Once the egg mixture is warm to the touch, pour the contents of the bowl into the saucepan with the rest of the warm milk and mix thoroughly.

FOUR. Heat over medium, whisking constantly, until the mixture gets thick, about 5-6 minutes. At this point, switch to a rubber spatula, scraping the sides of the saucepan as you stir, until large bubbles start to come up to the surface.

FIVE. Off the heat, stir in the cream cheese and vanilla extract. Push the filling through a sieve to remove any lumps or accidental cooked egg, then pour the filling into your cooled graham cracker crust. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours before serving. Top with fruit or whipped cream (or both) and enjoy!!!

XoxoxoxoxoD

Conchas!!

I would like to mark down March 10th, 2019 as a very special day in my life calendar, because it was the day that I made my first Concha, and I can already tell that we will have a long and happy life together. Also called Pan Dulce, these beautiful works of art are a Mexican bakery staple known for their intricately patterned tops, often resembling the swirl of a shell. A concha consists of two parts: a sweet cinnamon roll, and a crisp, colored (and sometimes flavored) streusel-like topping, which forms the crackly pattern on top. Whenever I used to come across pictures of these, I just assumed that some kind of baking pan or stamp was required and so I never really gave it much more thought. THEN, I came across this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen, and suddenly they were so attainable!!! No stamp needed, just a pairing knife, a steady hand, and some patience, and since I have two of those things, I once again took a bread-making quest that paid of incredibly well!

Almost as soon as you start this recipe, you will start to wonder why no one has managed to make a candle that can capture this scent exactly. No offense but the combination of fresh bread and cinnamon is the only thing that matters in this world. Truly. Anyway, if you thought these treats couldn’t get any better, boy do I have news for you! Something that is very fun and special about this recipe is that it’s totally customizable! By mixing different flavors and colors into your streusel topping, you are opening up so many possibilities here! You can add cocoa powder for a hint of chocolate, lemon zest, freeze dried berries, or combine several food colors for a rainbow pattern, and it’s 100% up to you! I kept mine on the simpler side for my first try, and used a red gel food coloring to give my Conchas a bright pink finish. From there, you could follow the traditional concha shaped top by cutting a shell pattern into the top (the bun rises and expands while baking to form the crackled top that these are known for), but you can also add concentric circles, stripes, grids, or any number of patterns and see how they turn out!

Before we get started, let’s all take a moment to appreciate these 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. Falling asleep in the car on the way home from a long day.
TWO. Using something you had been saving for a special occasion.
THREE. An evening of zero productivity.
FOUR. An evening of extreme productivity.
FIVE. Asking for a booth at the restaurant.

 

MAKES: 12 buns with topping
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
RISING TIME: 2½ hours (divided)
BAKE TIME: 18-20 minutes

DOUGH INGREDIENTS

3 Tbsp. warm water
2½ tsp active dry yeast
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 white sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups all purpose flour

TOPPING INGREDIENTS

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food coloring of your choice or 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

STEPS

ONE. Warm the bowl of your stand mixer by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a minute. This will allow you to add warm water with the yeast and not have the heat change when it touches the cold metal bowl. Once the bowl is warmed, remove that water and add in the 3 tablespoons of warm water and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom and get foamy, about 5-7 minutes. If it doesn’t foam up, your water was either too hot or too cold, or the yeast is no good, so you’ll have to start over.

TWO. When the yeast is ready, add in the oil, melted (and slightly cooled!) butter, sugar, evaporated milk, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs. Using the dough hook attachment, mix until the eggs are slightly broken up and everything is incorporated.

THREE. Add the flour all at once, and mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth, and a little sticky. Coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray and transfer the dough. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

FOUR. While your dough is rising, you can make the buttery streusel topping! Mix all the ingredients in your stand mixer until smooth and incorporated, then decide whether you want the topping to be chocolate (add the 2 tablespoons of cocoa) or colored (add gel food coloring of your choice!), or both! I went for pink this time but you can do whatever you want! Scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth of topping for each bun, I did this ahead of time so that the topping was ready when the bread was!

FIVE. After the bread dough has doubled, turn it out onto a baking mat or countertop and section it into 12 rolls. If you want to weigh them individually so that they’re even, you can, but I just eyeballed it. Shape them by hand into uniform, round buns and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

SIX. Take each topping round and flatten it into a disk in your palms, then lay it over the top of each bun so that the top is totally covered. Repeat for all. Using a pairing knife, cut some patterns into the top- you can research some of the more traditional patterns here, but you can also do whatever you feel like! When all designs are done, cover the whole tray with a towel and allow the buns to rise again for another 30 minutes, until doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 350ºF halfway through this second rise.

SEVEN. Bake the buns for 18-20 minutes, until they are lightly golden and the topping has spread into the classic concha shape. Best eaten soon after baking, with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate!!

YAY! xoxoxoxD

 

Spaghetti al Limone

If you remember last week’s post, I mentioned that I have recently been introduced to the world of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen videos, and I can’t believe I survived this long without them honestly. Aside from being incredibly informative, they’re so wholesome and everyone is super lovely and nice to each other and I love it so much.

Of the test kitchen chefs, I keep finding myself going back to the videos done by Molly Baz, because they’re simple in procedure, but packed with flavor, also I’m fascinated by her collection of cross-back aprons. So much so that I definitely also bought one and I’m in LOVE with it. But anyway, back to food because that’s why we’re here, this recipe comes from Molly herself (original can be found here), and it’s literally so good that the first time I made it I gasped out loud. I’m not kidding!! It’s rich and cheesy like a fettucine alfredo, but with a bright zing of lemon so that it doesn’t feel heavy, it’s a dream come true. Plus it’s done in under half an hour so what more could you possibly want from a pasta dish??

Because I can barely contain my excitement, we’ll get right to it, but not before I give you five things to be happy about today!
ONE. A book so gripping that you read it from start to finish in one sitting, well into the night.
TWO. Iced coffee with coffee ice cubes.
THREE. A three day weekend.
FOUR. Drinks served in mason jars.
FIVE. Clothes that you can wear from winter to spring.

Let’s cook!!
SERVES: 3-4 people
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 lemon
12 oz. thick spaghetti
Kosher salt
¾ cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

STEPS

ONE. Before starting, place your pot of water on the stove to boil, so that it’s ready when you are. Set out all of your ingredients in their correct measurements (called a mise en place!) because once you get started, you won’t have time to stop and grate cheese or juice a lemon on the go.

Waste not! We use this whoooooole lemon!

TWO. Using a vegetable peeler, cut one wide strip of the lemon peel and slice it into thin strips and set aside (this will be a garnish for later!). Zest the remaining peel of the lemon into a dutch oven or large saucepan, then juice the same lemon and reserve 2 tablespoons of juice.

THREE. Pour the cream into the dutch oven with the lemon zest, and cook on medium heat until the cream is heated through and just about to simmer. *Start cooking your pasta now!* Lower the heat and whisk in your butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, then remove the pot from the heat.

FOUR. When your pasta is very al dente, about 3 minutes earlier than the package instructions, scoop out 1½ cups of pasta cooking water, and add ¾ cup to the cream sauce. Transfer your pasta to the sauce pot using a pair of tongs (it’s okay if some pasta water drips in as well), and return to medium heat. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, adding the parmesan cheese gradually until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Feel free to add more pasta water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the reserved lemon juice now, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

FIVE. To serve, swirl a generous pile of pasta onto the plate, garnish with more fresh black pepper, and the reserved lemon peel strips. Enjoy!!!

xoxoxoxoxoD